Perhaps channeling Donald Fagen, the Steely Dan impresario who once fantasized about jetting “ninety minutes from New York to Paris,” technopreneurial Elon Musk on Friday did him one better: On Twitter, the Tesla chief suggested his rocket ships will one day carry passengers from pretty much anyone on the planet to pretty much anywhere else on the planet . . . in under 30 minutes.
What a beautiful world this will be, indeed.
It was a busy morning for the tweeting Musk.
And it was also a morning of surprises, as Musk got up to speak at a function in Adelaide, Australia, and announced something of a more down-to-earth plan than his well-publicized campaign to colonize Mars. The new idea? Take his SpaceX, founded in 2002, and dramatically expand its mission statement. As if landing humans on Mars weren’t thinking big enough already, Musk vowed to transform high-speed travel back here on Planet Earth.
Fly to most places on Earth in under 30 mins and anywhere in under 60. Cost per seat should be… https://t.co/dGYDdGttYd
— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) September 29, 2017
And if that didn’t make you spit out your morning coffee, clicking on that Instagram link took you to the rest of that sentence: “. . . about the same as full fare economy in an aircraft. Forgot to mention that.”
“If we’re building this thing to go to the moon and Mars, why not go other places as well?” Musk told his audience Down Under. The speech was pitched as an update to another he gave last year when he talked about SpaceX and how the brash rocket-man startup would make humanity a “multi-planet species.”
Friday’s presentation at the International Astronautical Congress was a bit more grounded, the hype factor of last year’s rocket plans dialed down a few notches. Musk and his team still want to build a massive rocket, though, and he’s calling it BFR, or Big [expletive] Rocket.
“I think we’ve figured out how to pay for it, this is very important,” he said.
In SpaceX’s video showing off the big idea, passengers take a large boat from a dock in New York City to a floating launchpad out in the water. They board the same rocket that Musk wants to use to send humans to Mars by 2024 – and then fly off to Shanghai. Thirty-nine minutes and 7,000 miles later, the rocket comes back down to earth, docking at another floating structure. Other routes proposed in the clip include London to Dubai or New York in 29 minutes and Los Angeles to Toronto in 24 minutes.
Reaction for Musk’s industrial-sized imagination came fast and furious, ranging from praise to gentle mockery:
Bravo for a superb work and Thank you for all you do. Looking forward to all that unfolds in the coming years. Go SpaceX and team BFR!🚀
— Phoenix Rosa (@ThePhoenixFlare) September 29, 2017
So you’re saying that I could get from Maine to SF in less than 60 minutes?
Or from Boston to Japan in less than 60 minutes?
If I wanted to make a quick trip to see penguins in Antarctica between classes, could I do that in less than 60 minutes?
These are the important Q’s.
— Sam Schmir 🤷♂️ (@SamSchmir) September 29, 2017
The new fully reusable system Musk presented Friday includes a booster stage and a spaceship that can carry about 100 passengers, able to fly a whole range of missions, from trips between world capitals like New York and Mumbai, and flying astronauts and cargo to the International Space Station in low Earth orbit and to the moon and Mars in deep space.
In other words, or acronyms, BFR is going to be a BFD.
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